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Do's and dont's of direct mail

To help your pieces stand out and make your campaigns successful, follow our "Do's and Don'ts" of direct mail. Think about your business and when your customers will most likely need your product or service. Hit them at the right time and you'll see the best results.

For certain businesses, direct mail postcards work extremely well. A blood donor center, for example, sends thank you postcards to donors immediately after they give. As a reminder, they then send a second postcard eight weeks later, when the donor is physically able to give again. It keeps donors coming on a regular basis.


  • Time your post. Get it in your readers' hands in time for them to take full advantage of your offer. If you're offering a Christmas special, it should reach customers by the end of November.
  • Use a good, current database. Your database should include customers, professional contacts, and targeted customers and business contacts.
  • Remember -- it's not about you. Think about your customers' perspective and their needs when creating the mailing.
  • Write copy that passes the "So what?" test. A house cleaning service, for example, should highlight the time and energy people save by hiring a house cleaner -- not the fact that its workers clean windows and ovens. Talk about the benefits your business offers, not its features.
  • Pay special attention to headlines, first lines of sales letters, and the P.S. Your audience reads these things first.
  • Think outside the box. One real estate agent sent prospects a fresh plum to advertise the "plum property" she had available.
  • Include easy-to-find contact information so readers know how to reach you.
  • Use your logo and company colors on everything. Be consistent.
  • Include a call-to-action for readers, like a special offer, voucher, or limited time deal.
  • Commit to a direct mail schedule so you can "touch" customers several times throughout the year. If you know you want your piece to hit in November, create a timeline for updating your database, designing and producing the mailing, and sending it out so it arrives at your targeted time.
  • Track the results of your mailing with a number on the postcard or by asking readers to refer to the postcard when taking advantage of your offer.



  • Brag about your company's great features, product, or service and forget to include why the reader should care.
  • Buy a mailing list unless it's appropriate for your business. Your mailing will be more effective if it hits people who know you and need what you're offering.
  • Waste money sending to outdated addresses.
  • Send in the middle of December when people are stressed about the holidays!
  • Use different colors and styles of your logo. Use the same logo and colors so people will automatically associate you with what they see.
  • Send a mailing and then forget about it. Remember to follow up!


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